by Dennis Scanland
I had the opportunity to have an email conversation with Joey Eppard from 3 recently. Below you will find the transcript. Make sure and check out the story from their Porcupine Tree tour. It’s creepy.
First off, why ‘3’? Why not ‘5’ or ‘8’? What is the premise behind naming your band after a prime number?
I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for the number 3. It was a source of inspiration as far back as I can remember. We live in a 3 Dimensional physical space experiencing time as past, present and future in a form that consists of a body, mind and spirit. Musically we strive to be a 3 dimensional band, we have more than one aspect to who we are. We like to keep our listener’s on their toes. 3 represents evolution in that it transcends the duality of opossing forces to create something new.
For the uninitiated, tell us a brief history of 3. How did it get to the current powerhouse incarnation that exists now?
We began as friends doing what we love to do and that hasn’t changed. Of course our playing has improved over the years, but the passion has always been there. 3 got its start in 1993 in the basement of my parent’s house. It was me and bassist Chris Bittner, who went on to co-produce all of Coheed and Cambria’s records to date. We needed a drummer so we shoved a snare drum in front of my little bro, Josh and it just clicked. We were kids but we were very serious about what we were doing. We got our start opening for a stellar NY prog/punk band called Peacebomb. It was their creative arrangements and spontaneous live show that inspired a lot of the early 3 material.
We quickly developed a solid local fan base and a reputation for playing music that was highly sophisticated for such a young group of musicians. We traded labor hours for studio time to make the demos, which eventually led to our first deal with Universal. We were about half way through the making of our first record, “Paint By Number,” when a large corporate merger left us sidelined. They dropped every artist that hadn’t sold 150,000 records that year. Because we had yet to complete our first album we stood no chance. This was a crushing blow and soon after the first incarnation of 3 dissolved. Josh quit playing drums altogether, and Chris went on to intern at the studio where we’d been working. After some time off, I transformed my frustration into determination and decided to forge ahead with the project.
In the years that followed, I assembled a new band and released several albums on Planet Noise Records. Meanwhile, our good friends from Coheed and Cambria, known as Shabutie at the time, needed a drummer and asked my brother who’d begun to play drums again after a 2 year hiatus. They signed a deal with Equal vision and hit the road, quickly rising to national popularity.
By 2004, I had finally put together my dream line up including key members of the very band who’d influenced 3 in the early days, Peacebomb. The project had come full circle, making a matured return to our progressive roots. With the new team in place we took matters into our own hands, setting up a studio and recording “Wake Pig,” our self produced Metal Blade Records debut.
Give us a glimpse into your influences. I can only guess that Rush must be one of your childhood faves.
We’re 5 guys with 5 different sets of influences. For my part, I’m a big fan of classic rock, Led Zeppelin being my all time favorite. I’m also a big fan of song writers, John Lennon, Joni Mitchel, Elvis Costello. I like good music.
Being a professional musician, what are your feelings on the music industry right now? Do you condone leaks, bit torrents? Are you happy to see a decrease in physical CD sales and a rise indigital sales?
Its a time of change in the music industry. All I can do is make the music and hopefully it generates enough income to allow us to keep making it. The important thing is that it reaches people. The live shows are where it’s at, and if you really want to support a band that’s the way to do it. For ‘3’ I think digital accessibility is huge because we’re the kind of band that does things its own way. The industry didn’t work for us the way it was before so I’m all for change.
Here’s the obligatory, what are you listening to these days? What is in regular rotation on the tour bus?
Ojos De Brujo, Kiss Kiss, Elliot Smith, Imogen Heap, Genesis to name a few…
I’m really looking forward to your upcoming tour with Dream Theater and Opeth. Do you have any great tour stories to share with our readers?
It was the last show of our tour with Porcupine Tree. Word on the street was that this club was haunted. It was said that there was a swimming pool in the basement where a young girl had drowned long ago. Up until recently, bands and crew could actually go and hang out down there. These days they keep it locked up because, apparently, someone got seriously hurt. Some of the local stagehands claim to have seen the girl’s apparition diving into the empty pool at night. Another even claimed to have found a wet bathing suit dripping in the darkness.
The club was located on the ground level of large building that used to be an Eagles Club, (a secretive society somewhat similar to the freemasons). As we pulled into the parking lot the loaders were kind enough to point out the hotel right across the street where Jeffery Dahmer brought his victims. A bit unnerving considering what we’d already heard about the place.
The show went smoothly. Afterward, Billy and Daniel hit the showers and I went to the front of house to watch PT’s set. After about 20 minutes, I felt a tapping on my shoulder. It was Billy, and he looked excited. “Dude, come with me right now. We found it. We found the door to the basement!”
We made our way down several flights of stairs into the shower room. Shelly, a reporter who had interviewed us earlier was there waiting. Apparently she was coming with us too. We walked through the corridor of showers and into a locker room where, sure enough, there was a door that was pad locked shut and labeled ‘do not enter.’
“Dude its locked, what are you gonna do break it?” I asked sarcastically.
Billy looked possessed. He rummaged through his pockets and pulled out his keys. “Look, its the same kinda master lock as our trailer.” He inserted the key and gave it a twist.
To the shock of us all, the lock popped right open. None of us expected that to happen. Billy opened the door and jumped back. A musty smell poured out into the room. It was dark down there, but we had a flashlight.
Taking the lead, I crossed the thresh hold and descended the staircase. Billy and Shelly followed behind. The air was strange and left a bad taste in my mouth. Our footsteps seemed to echo endlessly, taking on a life of their own. The music from the club above us sounded totally demented bouncing around the concrete chamber.
I traced the empty pool with the flashlight. It was quite large, and several items had collected at its deepest point. Some beer bottles, clothing (a swim suit?), and what appeared to be a dark reddish liquid. We continued around the pools edge. When we reached the far side Shelly started freaking out. She just kept saying, “Guys I’m scared, I want to go back, take me back please!”
I swept the light up to the bolts where a diving board had once been attached. “Its easy to imagine her, right there, diving into the pool,” I said causing a chill to run up and down my spine. Shelly whimpered with fear.
Then we heard the sound. Something moved in the darkness of the rooms behind the diving area. Shelly just flat out screamed at the top of her lungs. “Calm down, we’ll get you out of here,” Billy said in a reassuring tone. I pointed the flashlight toward the source but saw nothing. Then again, the sound, but this time on the opposite side of the room. Shelly screamed again: “Get me the Fuck out of here!”
“Okay, okay, we’re going. We just have to get around the pool to get to the stairs,“ I said while scanning for a source. Suddenly one flashlight didn’t seem like enough, and I was seriously beginning to wonder if we weren’t alone in the darkness.
As we passed by the diving end of the pool I noticed spikes protruding from the cement and what appeared to be dried blood in their vicinity. “Guys be careful, you don’t want to step on one of those, it looks like someone else already did. “ I kept the light on the spikes as Billy and Shelly rounded the pool and made their way toward the steps. As I traced the light across the floor I saw something very strange. It looked to be a wet footprint, but as I bent to examine it we heard that sound again, and this time it seemed to be emanating from the deep end of the pool.
Shelly screamed and screamed. She and Billy started sprinting up the stairs, and I damn sure wasn’t about to get left down there alone. I scrambled up the stairs behind them. As we neared the top a silhouetted figure appeared in the doorway.
Shelly swallowed her screams with a gasp. I thought she might pass out so I braced to catch her.
“Shelly, are you all Alright? I heard screaming…” It was Ed, Shelly’s cameraman. We all breathed a brief sigh of relief, still rushing up the stairs and into the light. Billy shut the door behind us and snapped the lock on the clasp. Our screams gave way to laughter.
“Man, it must’ve been a big rat or something,” Billy sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
“Yeah, several of them,” I chuckled.
When we told the rest of the guys what happened, they were like: “lets go back down there!” So we headed back to the locker room. This time we had several flashlights.
Billy whipped out his trailer key and jammed it into the lock. Funny thing is, it wouldn’t open. No matter how hard he struggled, or which way he turned it. It simply didn’t work. Our key did not fit that lock. But if it wasn’t our key that opened it before, then what did?
Any wise words for the members of the Music Emissions community?
Do what you love!
Joey, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.